steelhead flies

I stopped by a local fly shop last week to BS a bit and look at some of their steelhead flies. One of the things that really struck me were the prices – $4.50 per fly and more. I’ve never thought that much about prices because I’ve tied flies for most of my life and grew up around a fly shop.

But those prices are a little crazy.

What about you? Do you struggle to pay $5 and more for a fly. Are you interested in developing a skill that will pay you back for the rest of your life? Not only will you get paid back monetarily, but in the enjoyment of making your own art that catches fish.

Once you get into fly tying, it will likely become just as addicting as hooking the steelhead you are tying the flies for.

Hey, maybe you have plenty of money and aren’t interested in making art. That’s fine, and if that’s the case, go ahead and click on through and check out some of the other categories here.

For those that want to learn the basics of fly tying, keep on reading ahead.  Or skim ahead, which is likely what you’re doing in reality?

I’m going to describe a little background to help you understand how to get started fly tying, talk about some killer steelhead patterns, and show you a quick video of how to tie a basic steelhead pattern.


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But before I get into it I wanted to do a little selfish promotion for the Fly Tying Mentor, which is an all encompassing step by step course to learning how to tie flies.

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Getting Started with Fly Tying

Fly tying, like many parts of fly fishing can seem overwhelming. Which materials do I need, what vise is best, am I even capable of tying are all common questions.

intruder fly pattern

The answer to all of these questions, as many things in fly fishing, is that you don’t need to buy everything up front. Start with the basic tools and materials to tie your first fly.

I’ll show you how to tie a very basic pattern later in this article. A fly that has probably hooked as many steelhead as any fly. Before we go there, let’s look at some of the basic tools you need to get started.

Basic Fly Tying Tools

  • Vise
  • Scissors
  • Bobbin
  • Hackle Pliears
  • Bodkin
  • Hair Stacker
  • Head Cement
  • Dubbing Wax

These 8 tools will be enough to get you started. Eventually you can upgrade and add tools, but for now, let’s start with the basics. Here’s a link to some additional information on tools and techniques.


Fly Tying Materials

Now that you have a feel for the tools, the materials are what your masterpiece will be created from. There are tons of different natural and synthetic materials out there. For now, the easiest way to proceed is to think about which fly you want to start off tying.

Get the materials for that fly, then after you feel comfortable tying that fly, move onto a second fly and get those materials. After a few patterns, materials will start to overlap, then it will get crazy.


Click here to watch Darren tie a Glo bug:

I’m going to lay out 6 different types of flies below. All are effective, but all use a different style. The point I want to hit home on is that there is no one size fits all.

Some is personal preference and experience. Actually, a lot ends up being the fly that has been successful in the past.

This is really just a primer to get you thinking about what’s available to you. I know this will bring up more questions than answers and I’ll try to answer these as we go.


6 Killer Steelhead Flies

  1. Egg sucking leech – fall/winter steelhead
  2. Stewart – summer steelhead
  3. Glo Bug – winter steelhead
  4. Stonefly – winter/summer steelhead
  5. Purple Intruder-summer and winter
  6. Hobo Spey – summer and winter

Egg Sucking Leech Material List

  • Tail: Black crosscut rabbit strip
  • Body: Peacock Hurl
  • Flash:  Purple Flashabou
  • Collar: Purple Saddle Hackle
  • Head: hot red chenille
  • Thread:  Black 6/0 Uni Thread
  • 36890 #1

Let’s start with one of the easier flies to tie from the list above. The Egg sucking leech or similar wooly bugger style flies have three very basic parts.

The bunny strip and egg on the head make this fly.  Remember, there’s never one way to tie these flies. That’s the beauty, you can experiement a bit.

Follow the video here to see how the fly is tied. Do you have any questions? If you do, send me a message here and I will find time to skype until we can figure it out.


Grab the basic tools and materials above from your local fly shop. Watch my step by step video again as you tie the fly.  After you feel comfortable with the first fly, work your way through the other steelhead flies in the list.

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And if you’re interested in the right spey rod for steelhead, Click here to see the Echo Spey Rod that has helped me drastically improve my spey cast and find more steelhead at a super reasonable cost (You also get a free spey line if you pickup the Echo Spey).  By the way, the link above is an affiliate link, which means I earn a commission if you do end up purchasing through that link.  It’s at no extra cost to you, and please if you have any questions related to this product, please let me know and I’d be happy to answer them for you.

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I'm Dave Stewart, a passionate fly-tying mentor, course teacher and writer. I want to take risks, meet interesting people, go hard, challenge myself and explore the world.